How do you keep noodles from turning to mush in soup? (I mean soup you're saving/freezing?)
As fall comes into focus, my mind is turning away from the grill and towards the stock pot. I like to make big batches of soup and freeze for quick weeknight meals, but I never manage to make soups like chicken noodle or minestrone successfully. The pasta always soaks up all of the broth and leaves me with an unappetizing lump of solids with no actual "soup" left. I know I could just prep the noodles last minute and add them after re-heating the rest of the soup, but that kind of defeats the purpose of making it ahead. How do you keep the noodles from turning to waterlogged mush?
I can't say I've ever found noodles in reheated soup to be mushy. I add them from the box to the pot at the very end of cooking, then let them sit in the hot broth with the pot covered and heat turned off. Leftovers are chilled promptly, then refrigerated or frozen. The noodles haven't turned to mush. They are firmer than those in canned commercial soups. I would never freeze soups containing pieces of potato - those are just horrible when thawed. Rice is nearly as bad. Beans do better. Barley is fine. I use the latter two far more often than noodles.
I'm curious how you heat up the soup that's been frozen....microwave? If so, then I can understand your reluctance to make the soup sans noodles and add when reheating, but that's the only way I've been able to freeze it without the texture issue. I have the same issue with potatoes and rice in soup - I think they all suffer once frozen.
So I make whatever soup I'm going to make to freeze, such as chicken, in a big pot, then take out enough for that night's meal, put it in a smaller pot, add the noodles or rice or potatoes, finish cooking, and eat. Then I portion out the remainder and freeze. When I plan to use the frozen soup, I take it out of the freezer (the night before, optimally) and leave in the fridge until cook-time, then put it in a pot, bring to a boil, and add the starch. It's still much quicker than doing the whole thing from scratch, but it's the same delicious quality.
I can't say this is "successful" but it has helped. I haven't found a way to freeze already made noodle soups. But if I know I am freezing it, I REALLY undercook my pasta (if it says 10 minutes I do maybe 4). It helps but isn't perfect at all.
I have also tried with mixed success essentially freezing the noodles "on top" of the soup. So I make soup - fill my container with some soup - chill so it is thicker - put the noodles on top, they don't really sink all the way in - and freeze it that way. Way more involved and not 100% but something else I've tried.
Curious if anyone has a good solution that works because I LOVE chicken noodle soup!
That is really tough to do. You might want to think of minestrone as a non-noodle leftover, and use potatoes in the soup as your starch. I am curious to see if others have found a way to freeze noodle soup successfully--I always add noodles to the first meal and save the rest without it.